If you grew up in the late ’80s or early ’90s, you probably remember the slap bracelet craze — those delightfully ridiculous bands you put on by slapping them across your wrist. It was a relatively short-lived novelty for most of us, and some schools subsequently banned the bracelets because, I can only assume, they hated fun.
Luxury watchmaker Ritmo Mundo is hoping to cash in on the nostalgia with its Reflex slap watch line. The Reflex is essentially a dressed-up slap bracelet with a slim watch inside, shiny lights on the outside, and a so-very-big $150 price tag.
The band is made out of smooth silicone and comes in 13 colors. The bright LED display looks cool, but the band feels unnecessarily thick and bulky, particularly the end where the battery is stored.
The Reflex certainly makes for great entertainment due to what I’ve deemed, “the slap factor.” It turns out that slapping on an accessory is just as fun now as it was in 1995. (Pro tip: don’t slap with the thicker, metal-backed battery end down first.)
Telling time with the Reflex is another story. The display consists of two columns of LEDs. On the left are 12 lights indicating the hour, and two lights to denote a.m. or p.m. On the right, you get the lights that show the minutes: 1 through 9, then 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50. Press a button on the watch once, and the LEDs will light up to display the time. Press it again and you get the date, with the 12 hour lights now indicating the month, and the minute lights indicating the date.
All the colored lights are neat, but it’s not a particularly intuitive way to tell time. For example, if it’s 12:37 p.m., the numbers 1 through 12 and the light for p.m. will glow on the left, and on the right, you’ll see 1 through 7 and 10, 20 and 30 on the right. Got that? Now try making sense of all the lights in the few seconds the LEDs stay lit.
If you’ve ever worn an LED watch like this, or an obfuscated watch like those from Tokyoflash, the layout will seem familiar. If not, it takes some getting used to.
There are other downsides. The LEDs, while extremely bright, only work well in certain situations. They’re difficult to read in bright daylight, but they’re obnoxiously bright in the dark. When I checked the time in a dimly lit bistro, the whole restaurant noticed, turning to admire the bright blue spotlight on my face.
Because it conforms to your arm when you slap it on, the Reflex fits snugly on all wrist sizes. I appreciated this at first — I have small wrists, so most watches are too big for me. But it soon became too tight, and there’s no way to adjust the fit. And the smooth silicone material, which makes for more comfortable slapping, doesn’t breathe at all.
The Reflex watch is undoubtedly fun to wear and play with. But, unfortunately, Ritmo Mundo is about 20 years too late to the slap bracelet party. Once you get over the novelty of the Reflex, you’re left with an expensive watch that requires too much brain power to use.